‘It’s the beginning of the end!’ wailed Mike. ‘You see, we’ll all be gone by Christmas. Unemployed!’
We all perked up at the thought.
Anyway, you’re wondering what’s happened to distress the usually calm and collected Mike. Our benevolent rulers have bought a robotic lawnmower. (Why the designers chose that name and not robomo, I can’t imagine.) Since Mike is our main mower, and as the oldest, gets a bit paranoid about losing his job (he has no need to, everyone loves him and our place of work would decay to a soulless husk within weeks without him) he sees the robomo as a direct threat.
‘Look at him, evil, lurking,’ said Mike as the happy little robot trundled along. The rest of us started making plans for googly eyes or deely boppers to decorate our new robot colleague, while Mike made plans for a terrible accident to occur. Our boss kindly informed Mike that this robot is not seen as a replacement, but as a way to free up our time for other gardening, but Mike isn’t convinced.
‘This is how it starts!’ he whispered to me.
Have any of you had to worry about automation taking your job?
When computers first started to get clever enough to do our jobs, they promised us a life filled with leisure instead of work. I don’t why that suddenly became Humans, you are obsolete! Keep out the way and starve quietly!
The landlady turned up before I left for work to let us know that someone would be painting the house next week. Most landladies would have sent an email, but she had some blankets she wanted to store somewhere and decided that our kitchen cupboards were a good place to do that. I found her when I went to make some toast, she was clearing plates out of the cupboard to make room for the blankets. It was too early to argue and I am a coward.
‘It must be nice to rent and not have all these responsibilities. To get the whole house painted without any effort. I’d love to just go off to work without a care,’ she said, and I huffed around the kitchen trying to make toast with her faffing about in front of the toaster. Incidentally, she doesn’t have to go off to work at all, because she makes so much money in rent. Once she’d gone I tried to fit the plates in another cupboard.
“It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.” Ashleigh Brilliant.
Sub Tropical land. I need a short flower interlude from inspirational posters. So I decided to share with you some photos from our sub-tropical border, cos it’s beautiful.
I also thought I should let you know the bloke I see every day, who walks slowly up and down with his head hanging, I haven’t seen him since I wrote about him. I’ve decided for simplicity to call him Brennan, since that name means sorrow and he looks like the most desolate man I’ve seen. I’ll let you know when he comes back. I last saw him on his knees facing a house at seven in the morning so I’m a bit worried.
Word of the day: nullibicity – state of being nowhere
A woman on the tube today had a high vis vest on, she wasn’t acting oddly at all, just standing by the window at the end of the carriage looking out so that her back was turned towards me. Written in huge letters across the back of the high vis was
I’m straight, get it? Yes, I’m a woman and an engineer so keep your prejudices to yourself. Even in a high vis I’m straight.
Then on the front
Straight hetero engineer
I’m undecided what I think of this. On the one hand I’m sympathetic to the hassle women get for working in what are traditionally men’s roles, because I’ve had plenty over the years. It isn’t upsetting, but it’s irritating and it wears you down. On the other, writing it in huge letters on your clothes is somewhat stroppy and attention seeking, since 99% of people wouldn’t give a crap either way, and the only reason people were staring at her was because they were trying to work out what her high-vis said. On the other hand (I have three hands now) what’s the stress about being gay or straight? Does it matter if someone assumes she’s gay? On the other hand (now I have four hands, I’m a mutant!) I don’t know the circumstances surrounding this, maybe she didn’t even write the words herself.
Any other hands people can help me with?
Word of the day: paralipsis – fixing attention subject by pretending to neglect it
Now this is almost like a real inspirational poster, although I’d say exercise and doctors are also useful in the pursuit of health.
London today was soggy. It was ok, I have waterproofs, but the biggest problem was trying to not to destroy the squeaky cleanness of the messroom when I was coated in mud. And the toilets in the new block are too small, which means just getting past the concertina door meant I painted the wall with a layer of mud from my coat. Then I’d turn around to clean it up and decorate the other wall behind me. And everything I touched, from bog roll to door to sink taps became streaked with brown, I felt like a shitty Midas.
When we were getting ready to go home, Mike said to Dan, now you need to find an umbrella you can hold over me so I don’t get wet. I looked at him quizzically and he said,
I’m concerned that my inspirational quote generator may be a little sexist.
At work today, Mateo had sushi for lunch and left his chopsticks on the table in our new smoking area. Mike picked them up and began to play.
‘I’ve never used these before, is it difficult?’ he said, holding them like drumsticks and trying to pick up a small stone.
‘Well it is if you hold them like that,’ explained Jessica. Then she spent a patient half hour trying to show him how to hold them. He would get it, and shriek excitedly as the stone lifted, but within a few moments he seemed to lose the knack and would wail ‘My thumb keeps getting in the way! Why is my thumb in the way? Your thumb doesn’t get in the way!’ and then Jessica would start again.
The afternoon went as normal, I’m still hedgecutting. Trying, as we all do, to sneak a few topiaried animals into the more random, natural shapes that they want us to create.
When I got back to the yard, Mike was shoving one of our eleven-hundred litre industrial bins over lumpy concrete towards his van to empty the rubbish.
‘How ya doing?’ I asked. He gave me a tormented look and stopped shoving to hold up his hand.
‘I’ve got chopstick-finger!’ he wailed.
‘What?’ I asked as he waggled a digit in my face.
‘Chopstick finger! It hurts! From using it so much over lunch. I’m not doing that again. It’s dangerous!’
I’m not sure how long we’ve been in our new messroom now, a few weeks? I could look back, but I’m lazy. Anyway, after making a show of conforming to what the managers want (sitting inside, not messing around with the furniture etc) we have started to decorate and adapt, to bend our environment to suit what we want – after all, that’s what gardeners are good at.
I nicked a chair that was in one of the gardens, left there by a resident, and moved it inside so I don’t have to sit on one that slowly tips me off. We found two benches abandoned and put them outside in the shade. We emptied out the tin shed of bikes and unused cleaning products and turned it into a smoking room for when it’s raining. Mateo fixed a broken table and we put that between the benches. We even put a few paving slabs down, and added some plants, tinsel and an umbrella for decoration. It looks great.
The only downside is now the managers like to come and sit with us. Never more than one at a time, I don’t think they like sitting with each other.
‘I may not yet be as old as dirt, but dirt and I are starting to have an awful lot in common.’ Stephen R. Donaldso
Today I was working next to a main road today trying to reduce a hedge. The hedge was growing through the railings which meant I had to squash between plant and railing, my arm rubbing against the leaves. After a day, I looked like this.
(note: my arms look like truly odd shapes in these photos,. I don’t think they are odd shapes, it’s just difficult to take a photo of your own arm with a phone.)
No, that isn’t dirt exactly, it’s pollution. In central London, next to the road, the plants are covered with this. You can see it in the trees too.
It was a good day though, every time someone walked past on the pavement, I stopped the hedgecutter and waited (for safety, mainly, but also so as not to freak people out with the noise). People passing would see this squashed gardener behind the railing, hedgecutter held aloft. I’d smile, they’d smile, and it would make me a bit happier each time.
Word of the day: Ramentum – chaffy scale on plants
I’ve mentioned that recently we moved to a fancy new messroom at work, and I think I talked about our high tech fridge. It has an LED that says the temperature and the date, I get the relevance of the temperature, but the date seems unnecessary. It also makes a high-pitched squealing noise whenever the door is open, I’m not sure why since it’s got one of those doors that thunks closed if you let go of it.
Anyway, now the LED is broken and the high-pitched noise has become annoyingly erratic. Sometimes it comes on when you open the door, sometimes it comes on when you turn on the tap and sometimes it squeals continuously for an hour in a fit of pique. Luckily, unlike the chairs designed to tip you off and the clock that won’t set to the actual time, this affects the managers, so it will get fixed soon.
And speaking of the clock, a few readers suggested the exciting idea that the wrong times it kept setting to were coordinates, that would lead me to an inter-dimensional portal or some such (I can’t remember the details now, I might be making this up). So I tried setting it to see what time it moved to. It’s satellite connected, so no dial, I simply pressed the button, the hands whizzed round for a bit and then hung limply, twitching. I may have to accept that I’m not being sent important messages from another dimension, it’s just crap technology. This new messroom is falling apart.
Barry the road-sweeper is a paranoid bully who flips between aggressive friendliness, passive aggressive whining and irrational shouting. I was nice to him at first, so he thinks I should stay that way, but I don’t like the way he tries to intimidate people and have started avoiding him. Mostly he deals with this by standing outside whichever garden I’m working in and singing and dancing around. Occasionally shouting cryptic messages over the hedge, things like,
‘You never know where you are with women, do you?’ or ‘It could have been a nice day today, could’ve been!’ He doesn’t actually say these things to me or anyone else, he just shouts them to the sky as if a god were taking his side.
Aside from saying a friendly, ‘Hello, how you doing?’ I don’t take any notice. If I’m walking down the bit of street he’s sweeping, he leaps around in front of me waving his broom and singing, so I give him a polite smile and walk past.
Today he tried to get others on his side in this war I’m refusing to have. Apparently he walked up to Mike and told him,
‘I’m gonna mess with her, you’ll see. She thinks she’s got the better of me. But today I’ve started sweeping on the North side first, before the South side. She won’t know where I am! That’ll teach her.’
He’s so caught up in his paranoia and self-importance he not only thinks I know what order he sweeps the streets in (I’m on the other side of the hedge doing my job, I haven’t a clue), he thinks I care. Hopefully now he believes he’s got that small victory, he’ll lay off a bit.